Sabres set to host Islanders
ISLANDERS (19-29-7) at SABRES (26-22-5)
TV -- MSG PLUS (HD), MSG-B (HD)
-- New York 5-5-0, Buffalo 7-3-0.
-- Final meeting of four, the Sabres need a win to split, both overall and in each venue. The first three were played in an eight-day stretch, including a home-and-home Jan. 21 and 23 which went to the visiting teams. The two teams have split the series in each of the previous three seasons as well, Buffalo the last to pull off an outright win in 2006-07.
-- The Sabres are very much in the thick of the playoff hunt, thanks to a three-game winning streak and seven wins in their last 10, two of those losses at the hands of the Islanders. The Isles are coming off a wild 9-3 home win over the Penguins, their biggest offensive outburst since 1993 and one of the most penalized games ever with 14 fighting majors, 21 misconducts and 346 minutes. The NHL on Saturday suspended Isles forwards Trevor Gillies
(9 games) and Matt Martin
(4 games) for their actions during the game.
-- It didn't just turn up out of nowhere. Nine days ago, the Penguins dealt the Isles a second consecutive 3-0 loss, a nasty hit on Blake Comeau
from Max Talbot that put Comeau on injured reserve with a concussion, and a fight between goalies Brent Johnson and Rick DiPietro
that resulted in DiPietro going down with facial fractures via a left-handed Johnson haymaker.
So both teams expected Friday night's game to be chippy. No one, however, expected it to get quite like this.
"It was a pretty entertaining affair, and we'll take the two points," said Islanders center John Tavares
, who got the game's first star with a goal and 3 assists. "I've never seen anything like that before. It just wouldn't stop. But it just shows that we'll do anything for each other."
-- One thing about that game on Long Island that didn't surprise coach Lindy Ruff was the Islanders' scoring. They've already racked up 13 goals on the Sabres in three games, and Ruff reminded his players how dangerous the Isles can be.
"I warned our team (Friday) that I think (the Islanders) are a good offensive team, that they have some really good, young, talented forwards," he told the Sabres' official web site. "We saw it in the games that we’ve played them. They have good team speed."
-- Three Islanders reached the 20-goal mark on Friday -- Tavares, Matt Moulson
and rookie Michael Grabner
. Only one other NHL team, the Dallas Stars, has as many. ... The Sabres have two of their own, as Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford reached the mark this past week. They've combined for nine goals and 13 overall points during the Sabres' current three-game roll. Stafford's 20 goals are a career high, reached in only 35 games.
-- The Isles' walking wounded list includes Comeau (concussion, out indefinitely), DiPietro (facial fractures, knee swelling, out 4-6 weeks), forward Jeremy Colliton
(ribs, out 2-3 weeks), and goalie Nathan Lawson
(strained MCL, late February). Out for the longer term are defenseman Mike Mottau
(hip surgery), goalie Kevin Poulin
(dislocated kneecap), defenseman Mark Streit
(shoulder surgery) and forward Doug Weight
(back spasms). ... The Sabres' list is much shorter, with defenseman Steve Montador (upper body) and forward Patrick Kaleta (left hand) considered day-to-day.
-- March 25, 2003 was the last time the Islanders scored nine goals in a game, a 9-3 win in Chicago. Before that, they hadn't scored nine goals in a game since beating Ottawa 9-3 on Dec. 17, 1992, at the Nassau Coliseum. Prior to Friday, the Isles had just one regulation win in their previous 16 meetings with the Penguins. ... Tyler Myers scored the overtime game-winning goal in Thursday's win over the Panthers with 4.5 seconds left for just his second goal since Nov. 15. Five of his seven goals this season, however, have been game-winners, including two in the final seconds of overtime.
-- "This team is kind of sick of being pushed around all the time. I think we made a statement out there tonight, that we're not a laughingstock. We can take care of ourselves." -- Islanders forward Matt Martin
in Newsday on the message the team sent Friday